UK businesses facing £216 million bill for Christmas party calamities

Article date: 11 December 2009

  • Overindulgence and accidents will see over two million workers take "sickies"

With the workplace Christmas party season in full swing, UK businesses could be losing over £216 million* in "sick days", according to figures released today.

The Aviva "Morning After…" report** reveals 2.31 million UK workers have called in sick after drinking too much or having an accident at a work Christmas party - resulting in £216 million lost to the British economy, based on CBI calculations of absence costs.

Men are over twice as likely as women (88% more likely) to call in sick after the office party, and directors and managers are significantly more likely (67% more likely) to call in sick than the rest of the workforce.

Despite the recession, almost two thirds (61%) of UK businesses are still planning a party and workers’ festive spirits have not been dampened - over a quarter (26%) say the stresses of 2009 mean people are likely to get more drunk and rowdy than usual.

Employees will drink on average 7.3 units of alcohol at their Christmas party; men plan to drink an average of 9.6 units nearly three times the recommended limit for men of 3-4 units per day.  Women say they are likely to drink an average of 5.6 units - well over twice the recommended daily limit of 2-3 units. 

And alcohol-related accidents at Christmas parties are rife, with nearly a third (31%) resulting in hospital treatment. The most common office party mishaps are:

  1. Falling over dancing
  2. Slipping on spilt drinks
  3. Falling off furniture / a stage
  4. Passing out
  5. Walking into a wall / object

Surprisingly, a third (33%) of workers are honest about the reason for absence, while those who use illness as an excuse are most likely to claim flu (23%). Other popular excuses include food poisoning and migraines. 

Dr Doug Wright, principal clinical consultant at Aviva UK Health said: “After what has been a stressful year for many, it's understandable people want to let their hair down this Christmas.

“However, with 15% of people claiming to have witnessed or experienced accidents at the office parties, it pays to stay sober enough that you’re not risking injury. Don’t drink on an empty stomach and try alternating alcohol with soft drinks to avoid an unwanted trip to A&E during the festive period.

“For the two million* people who could be tempted to call in sick ‘the morning after’ we’d suggest booking a day off to recuperate – otherwise people may find they face more than a hangover!”.

-ends-

For further information, contact:
David Lucas 
Telephone: 020 7908 6422 
E-mail: dlucas@lexispr.com

Ruth Barley 
Telephone: 020 7908 6451 
E-mail: rbarley@lexispr.com

Notes to editors:

* Based on the CIPD Absence Management report. Aviva research showed 8% of a working population of 28.93 million (2.31 million) workers would take a day off after the office party. Based on CIPD absence costs per worker being £93.51 per day the financial cost of this to British business is £216 million

** Aviva commissioned Redshift to conduct research amongst over 1,000 full-time UK workers in November 2009.

*** Government guidelines for safe daily alcohol consumption are 2-3 units for women and 3-4 units for men.

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